The Democrat next door?
OK, give me a break! Just trying to have a little fun. In today's thought we could actually place any of our more detestable opposites into the slot where I've typed "democrat". You know, people who are polar opposites to ourselves, those of another belief system in our spectrum of neighbors. So, give it some thought. Who would you place is that slot if I had left it blank?
Furman fans HIV positive drug addicts
liberals northerners people with a record
Muslims minorities aliens
atheists pro-choice abusers
gays alcoholics handicapped
old people the media politicians
And, the list could go on and on. Every single one of us has people we'd leave off our friend list and exclude from our neighborly obligations. It's one of the particulars of living in Manic Heights. It would be just as real for someone around the corner to object to my Christian worldview and conservative ways. I mean, as they say, birds of a feather do flock together. Life is just more comfortable if I invite kindred souls into my friend cohort. I mean, shouldn't I hang with people of shared beliefs, ideals, perspectives, goals, and objectives in life?
You know, Jesus taught about that too. This teaching isn't specifically about the neighbor thing, but it does resonate with our our treatment of others, especially those not so like us. Make note of a lesson from the Sermon on the Mount---
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you
may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and
on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who
love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if
you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the
Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is
Matthew 5: 43-48, ESV
In Luke 6 this very same thought is expanded and finalized in what we usually refer to as the Golden Rule. The point is, there's very little Christian virtue in loving those who love us, a practice common even among tax collectors in first century Jerusalem. Greeting those in our inner friend circle isn't worthy of merit. Even the Gentiles showed that kindness to the people around them. The truth for me is that I'm supposed to be a neighbor even to my enemies, the people who look at life from a different angle, whose perceptions and biases and ideals are at odds with my own. Yes, I'll be neighbors with my political, spiritual, cultural, racial, and every other designation pals. My faith beckons me farther, however, and deeper. I'm to be neighbors and express grace and kindness and witness with people with little natural or social kinship. Even my enemies.
What radical teaching! Of course, only heavenly values can cure the relational tension so evident in Manic Heights right now. My order for the day: I should be friends even with the democrat next door.
Welcome to the neighborhood!
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